Why are my rhubarb stalks small and spindly?


Why are my rhubarb stalks small and spindly?


Newly planted rhubarb will initially produce small, spindly stalks during its 2 year establishment period.  The stalks of large, old plants may be small and spindly because of overcrowding.  Poor plant vigor due to poor cultural practices is another possibility.  

After planting rhubarb, wait 2 years (growing seasons) before harvesting any stalks.  The two year establishment period allows plants to become strong and productive.  

Large, old plants may need to be dug and divided.  Early spring is the best time to divide rhubarb plants.  Dig up plants as soon as the ground can be worked in spring.  Divide each plant into sections with a large knife or spade.  Each section should have at least 2 or 3 buds or shoots and a large section of the root system.  Replant immediately.  Set the divided sections in the ground at the same depth as they grew previously. 

Follow good cultural practices, such as the removal of flower stalks, fertilizing, and watering, to promote plant vigor.  

Learn more about rhubarb in this article: Growing Rhubarb in Iowa

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on . The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.